Japan Casinos to Get the Go Ahead?

Posted on November 13th, 2014

pachinko parlourIs the Japanese government about to sweep away its ban on casinos?

James Packer (the son of the late Kerry Packer) certainly things so- he wants to build a $5 billion resort in the country, which is the world’s 3rd largest economy behind the US and Chine, both of which have entrenched casino markets in Las Vegas and Macao respectively.

Japan is one of the last virgin gaming markets in the world. Industry experts believe it would quickly become the no. 3 gambling territory after Macau and the US if the gambling law is changed.
Legislation could be put back because of recent studies showing the number of gambling addicts in the land of the Rising Sun.

The casino market in Japan is said to be worth $40 billion annually and this is attracting the big players in the industry such as James Packer and his company Melco Crown.

Japan is seeking jobs, more tax and inward investment in regional centres, and they want to springboard off Japan’s 2020 Olympics- the aim is to increase the number of tourists from 10 to 30 million a year. They are looking to the success of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore (popular with Japanese punters) to show them how to achieve that.

However, Japan’s Department of Welfare recently completed a survey that suggested that Japan was full of problem gamblers. Professor Naoko Takiguchi from Otani University is an expert in gambling addiction in the country.

Pachinko is seen to be a problem already, so many people are asking: “why add to that with roulette, sic-bo, slots and blackjack? Pachinko alone is worth a staggering $200 billion per year.

The game is a mix between a poker and a pinball machine: it’s not categorised as gambling because no money is exchanged on site so the games are unregulated- players can play as long as they like.
Supporters of the bid to legalise gambling insist that, with regulation, these problems are easier to manage. The six million dollar question is- will the legislators agree?

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